The Baltic States in March and Aptil

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1. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1195 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

Thinking about knocking off these last three countries from my Europe list and I have an opening in March and April. I was going to rent a car the whole time. Does anyone have any insight? I don't need much for hotels, a bed and a roof. Thanks. I assume Estonia to Latvia have cross border driving.

Sorry about the typo. Can't seem to edit it on the phone

[ Edit: Edited on 24-Jan-2019, at 18:26 by Piecar ]

Post 2 was removed by a moderator
3. Posted by Teoni (Travel Guru 695 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are all Schengen but different insurance, so check the rental company terms if they let you drive in all three countries. March and April is still very cold and there can be still snow. This year is apparently one of the coldest winters. It can be a bummer if you plan on hiking the numerous walking trails in Latvia or Estonia, though most of the swamp walks are board walks. The islands of Estonia have car ferry access if you are interested.The Curonian Spit is an obvious must visit otherwise I guess it depends on your interests. Is there particular things you want to see or do?

4. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1195 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

My plan is really just to sitesee (sightsee?). Eat food, drink beer and stop in towns where people wonder who this Canuck is. And this plan just came up today. Gonna do more research after work. Good info to start with. Thanks Teoni.

[ Edit: Edited on 24-Jan-2019, at 20:26 by Piecar ]

5. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1248 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

We had a sightseeing journey from Riga to Vilnius. It stopped at Salaspils for the memorial, Rundale for the palace, the Hill of Crosses, Kaunas and Trakai - all worth seeing but that journey was 12 hours, you might want to split it up. In Vilnius, don't forget to visit the independent republic of Uzupio. 😁😁

6. Posted by ToddP (Moderator 178 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

We did the same trip but on the public transport.

1) The car rental would be the easiest option, but you will end up paying a 'one-way' fee. If this not an issue, then definitely the best way of doing it.

EE: Tallinn, Tartu, Parnu, Kuressaare
LV: Riga, Jurmala, Daugavpils, Jelgava, (alternatives Ventspils, Liepaja)
LT: please check my blog 'The best of LITHUANIA (Lietuva)'

2) If otpion 1 no go I would suggest pick up a car in TLL and do couple days around the country. Fly to RIX (or get a bus) and do the same. Then fly to VNO (or get a bus) and pick up a car to cover LT. Here now instead of bringing car back to VNO you can leave it in Kaunas or Palanga. The one-way fee was around €30 or so only. Saves time so you don't need to drive all the way back.

Let me know if anything else and I'll drop you a line.

7. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1484 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

Sounds great. I've taken citybreaks in Kaunas, Riga and Vilnius at Easter and had a lot of fun. It's shoulder season so you can get anything weather-wise, but there are plenty of indoor things to see and do in those countries.

It's not the most scenic part of the world for hiking, it's more flat lands with straggly forests. The cities, towns and culture are the things to go for.

Tallinn is the one with the pretty terracotta brick architecture in the old town, and is a real blend of medieval, Soviet and modern. Be sure to see Kadriorg Palace, built for Peter the Great.

In Riga, there are a couple of streets of Art Nouveau architecture to see, and the central market is built from former Zeppelin hangars. A daytrip out to Sigulda takes an hour or so on the train and leads to wooded river valleys and a variety of castles. They also have the best "Russian kitchen" style restaurant I've found so far, a chain called Lido with half a dozen branches in the city but one larger one called Lido Entertainment Centre, all built in wood and interestingly decorated - 3 floors so upstairs a posh restaurant, ground floor the main restaurant which is cafeteria style choose whatever you like on your tray and pay at the till, basement bar often with entertainment like an oompah band. Great, and still pretty cheap despite prices in the country having rocketed since they joined the Euro.

In Lithuania Vilnius and second city Kaunas are both worth a visit. In Vilnius the KGB museum is the best museum I've ever visited, it really brought home what happened there within my living memory. And Kaunas has the excellent 9th Fort museum, with a lot about the Soviets. South from Kaunas is the spa town of Birstonas - a Soviet-era convalescent centre where you can go for a swim, sauna and spa next to the old amputees. Weird but interesting.

All these countries have "ethnographic museums", open air museums with traditional log cabin houses, and if you go on the right day (usually weekends) you'll find them full of people in traditional costume and with bands playing and folk dancing going on.

8. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1195 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

This is great stuff, thanks gang. Experience has shown there's always good info to be had here.

On the car issue: My initial idea was to drive down to Lithuania from Tallinn inland, and then drive back to Tallinn on a more coastal route, I was thinking roughly a month of drifting around ( the rental car price quotes are ridiculously cheap) In the blind, what does one think of the length of time for this? In the end, I was thinking of ferrying across to Helsinki for a few days. I haven't been back there since my one visit approximately 150 years ago. But is it better just to go in a straight line for less time?

9. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1484 posts) 12w 1 Star this if you like it!

Yeah meander around as you have ages.

Have you been to Saint Petersburg? If not, I'd suggest it as a top European highlight - possible from Helsinki without visa I believe.

10. Posted by ToddP (Moderator 178 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Piecar

This is great stuff, thanks gang. Experience has shown there's always good info to be had here.

On the car issue: My initial idea was to drive down to Lithuania from Tallinn inland, and then drive back to Tallinn on a more coastal route, I was thinking roughly a month of drifting around ( the rental car price quotes are ridiculously cheap) In the blind, what does one think of the length of time for this? In the end, I was thinking of ferrying across to Helsinki for a few days. I haven't been back there since my one visit approximately 150 years ago. But is it better just to go in a straight line for less time?

Great idea. You will have your freedom to go and stop whatever wherever you want. Will be cool. To get to Helsinki is quick and very straightforward. Is a short ferry ride.
If you have time and finances permitting you would take your time and see as much (or as little) as you wish in your own time.